Wednesday, May 25, 2022

End of the road for the Covid-19 Task Force

The government has decided not to renew the Presidential Covid-19 Task Force contracts following expiry this week. The Coordinator of the Task Force Dr Kereng Masupu, his Deputy Dr Mosepele Mosepele, and Scientific Adviser Dr Mogomotsi Matshaba this week cleared their desks and said their goodbye together with the rest of their team after two years at the forefront of the battle against the pandemic.

Acting Permanent Secretary, Government Communications and Information Systems John-Thomas Dipowe confirmed the news saying the contracts came to an end at the end of February, 2022. He said however that the contract would not be renewed saying the Government has “expressed profound gratitude to them for their selfless service to this nation at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

He said the Ministry of Health and Wellness has built capacity to collect and collate information from Government Ministries, Districts, the Private Sector and the Public. “All these measures are well established strategies for containing the spread and transmission of the pandemic. The continuous public health campaigns particularly encouragement to the public to adhere to health protocols has increased the country’s ability to manage the pandemic,” Dipowe said.

It has been a bumpy ride for the Task Force over the past two years with constant clashes with the Ministry of Health particularly over the former’s powers.

There was frustration within the government enclave over ‘excessive’ powers bestowed upon the Presidential COVID-19 Task Force by President Mokgweetsi Masisi. Sunday Standard received reports that various top officials at ministries and government departments were up in arms over being relegated to the back seat in the name of Covid-19.  

The technical leadership and implementation of the response to the epidemic was, naturally, expected to be under the coordination of the Ministry of Health.

Then Chief Public Relations Officer in Ministry of Health Doreen Motshegwa’s role had been reduced to that of a spectator. “The Ministry of Health and Wellness Chief Public Relations Officer should be the one shining with her team but the poor people have been relegated to the backseat,” a source says.

And so was the role of the then Permanent Secretary, Botswana Government Communications and Information System the (BGCIS) Andrew Sesinyi.

The Botswana Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 was established by the Government of Botswana on urgency basis to help combat the spread of COVID-19. The Team comprised professionals with relevant and diverse skills to curb the spread of COVID-19 spread in Botswana.

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